Football League Cup

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The Football League Cup, commonly known as the League Cup or, from current sponsorship, the Carling Cup, is an English football competition. Like the FA Cup, it is played on a knockout (single elimination) basis. Unlike the FA Cup where 762 teams entered in 2008–09 only 92 clubs can enter—the 20 clubs of the Premier League, and the 72 clubs of The Football League, which organises the competition. Also unlike the FA Cup, the semi-finals are played over two legs. The winners qualify for the UEFA Europa League, if they have not qualified for European competition through the Premier League or by winning the FA Cup. If this occurs, then the Europa League berth goes to the highest-placed team from the Premier League not already qualified for Europe. Manchester United are the current holders.

Since 1982, the League Cup has been named after its sponsor, giving it the following names:

Although the League Cup is one of the three major domestic trophies attainable by English league teams, it is perceived by some larger clubs as a lower priority than the league championship and the FA Cup. Arguably, it reached a low point over the turn of the millennium when it was commonly nicknamed the 'Worthless Cup'.[1] or "the Mickey Mouse Cup". Some clubs have made a point of fielding a weaker side in the competition, making the opportunity for giant-killing of the larger clubs more likely. Many of the top English sides, Arsenal and Manchester United in particular, have used the competition to give young players valuable big-game experience.[2] However, in response to Arsène Wenger's claim that a League Cup win would not end his trophy drought, Alex Ferguson described the trophy as 'a pot worth winning'.[3]

The women's game has its own League Cup, which is open to the 36 women's clubs in the three divisions of the FA Women's Premier League, although the women's competition is governed by The FA and not The Football League.

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